McMorris Rodgers Drops Out of Running for House GOP Leadership After Liz Cheney Launches Bid

Rep. Liz Cheney / Getty
November 8, 2018

Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) is likely to become the next chair of the House Republican Conference after the current occupant, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), decided Thursday that she would not seek a fourth term in the position.

A person familiar with McMorris Rodgers' decision confirmed her move to the Washington Post. McMorris Rodgers' choice to vacate her leadership post came after Republicans lost their eight-year House majority. The GOP lost at least eight and possibly as many as 15 seats in the midterm elections on Tuesday.

Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Richard Cheney, sent a letter to her colleagues on Wednesday announcing her bid to challenge McMorris Rodgers. In the letter, she signaled dissatisfaction with the job McMorris Rodgers has done during her tenure and promised that she would be more aggressive in her messaging against Democrats, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

[Cheney] called for an overhaul of how Republicans plot their course in the public eye. "We need to be able to drive our message across all platforms. We need to own the daily news cycles. We need to lead and win the messaging wars."

"The Democrats have told us what they plan to do with the majority. Every member of our conference must be armed and ready to go on offense," she added. "We must also have an effective rapid response operation—deploying immediate rebuttals and prebuttals to the Democrats' false claims."

Cheney stressed the need to "win the communications battle every day" in order to regain the initiative in the near-term, and the majority in the long-term. "I want to lead the effort to build a new and effective House GOP communications operation," she wrote.

She laid out 10 steps for Republicans in the House to succeed, most focused on dominating "social media, print and radio," which she said will allow Republicans to "[d]rive messaging … and effectively rebut Democrat false claims." Cheney also called for better transparency and communication with the press, something she said will allow the public to understand "what's happening in our hearing rooms and on the House floor." If Republicans execute properly, they should be able to "[w]in the daily news cycle," and spread their message to the American people.

Cheney is the only Republican who has declared an interest in the position, which will be voted on next week during the House GOP's leadership elections.

Beyond the race for chairing the House Republican Conference, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) is facing off against Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) for the House minority leader post, and Rep. Steve Scalise (R., La.) is running unopposed to be the House minority whip.